Stuffing the ballot box: It's as American as apple pie, baseball and defaulting on mortgages. Just ask fans of the Washington Redskins who, thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign by the team's front office, have turned Pro Bowl Internet voting into a tidal wave of burgundy and gold. According to ESPN.com (by way of the Redskins Blog and D.C Sports Bog), Washington has four of the top 10 vote-getters in the NFC and has players leading at a staggering 21 positions of 26 possible starting positions, including eight on offense, nine on defense and all four specialists.
This is thanks to the "Vote the Redskins Ticket" campaign put on by the Redskins, which encourages fans to "vote early and often" for Redskins players for the 2009 Pro Bowl. Below is one popular internet ad, featuring Hall of Fame Redskins (and current radio announcers) Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff.
The numbers are staggering. Dan Steinberg figured that Clinton Portis has 51% more votes than Adrian Peterson at running back. Redskins FB Mike Sellers leads by 143%. And rookie 7th-round draft choice Chris Horton has an unbelievable 206% lead over his next closest competitor at free safety.
At least those guys are good enough to play in Hawaii. Not surprisingly, other, uh, less-worthy members of the Redskins are currently leading the vote at their respective positions too. Punter Ryan Plackemeier, who was picked up in early October and heads the worst punting unit in the league, is winning. Defensive end Andre Carter, who hasn't laid a hand on the quarterback in weeks, is second at his position.
Votes only make up one-third of the Pro Bowl criteria (picking the player with the best reputation represents the other two-thirds -- not really, but it seems like it), so don't expect to see all those Redskins in Honolulu.